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Compensating Indigenous social and cultural losses: a community-based multiple-attribute approach

Robin Gregory, Decision Research; Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
Philip Halteman, Compass Resource Management
Nicole Kaechele, RIO Project Management
Jana Kotaska
Terre Satterfield, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia


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Impact evaluations in North America are required to examine not only the economic, environmental, and health effects of activities but also their social and cultural impacts. In practice, however, many important social and cultural effects are often neglected as part of court-sponsored negotiations and decisions by government regulators because they are not represented in terms of economic markets, specific to the decision context, or lack standard measures. This omission is especially significant when determining compensation for Indigenous communities due to restrictions placed on their fundamental connection to traditional lands and the negative impacts on language, governance, social systems, and well-being that rely on the maintenance of shared, place-based practices. We propose a comprehensive, multiattribute approach for estimating compensation to Indigenous communities and summarize results from a case-study application in two Indigenous Dene Nations. In a final section we discuss the broader implications of adopting a more accurate depiction of impacts and a consistent, principles-based approach to calculating compensation payments that is more respectful of the losses experienced over time by many Indigenous communities as the result of encroachments onto their traditional territories.

Key words

compensation; cultural; environment; Indigenous; social

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087